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More than 3000 candidates from 37 parties are competing in Burma’s elections on 7 November, but two-thirds of these hail from the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and National Unity Party (NUP). The former is led by Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein and includes key government officials, such as Foreign Minister Nyan Win and third-in-command, Shwe Mann.
Two-thirds of the parties competing in the polls are representing the historically sidelined ethnic minority population of Burma – this includes the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) and the Chin National Party (CNP). Opposition groups are also playing a key role in the polls, the strongest of these being the National Democratic Force (NDF) and the Democratic Party Myanmar (DPM).
And overseeing the polls is Thein Soe, chief of the Election Commission – the supreme authority of the elections before and during polling. The 17-member board was handpicked by the junta, headed by Senior General Than Shwe.